Cohort effects on gender differences in alcohol dependence


Laura Holdcraft PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Washington
Harborview Medical Center
Box 359797
325 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104–2499


Aims The present study investigated the presence of cohort effects on gender differences in the course, severity and symptomatology of DSM-III-R alcohol dependence in a community-based sample.

Design A comparison of substance-related variables among men and women divided into two groups based on the median birth year of the sample was conducted.

Participants Participants were 468 men and 132 women with life-time alcohol dependence, the vast majority of whom were born between 1941 and 1960.

Measurements Substance use and DSM-III-R substance use disorders were assessed by a structured interview administered in person.

Findings Individuals born after 1951 had higher rates of alcohol dependence. Among individuals with alcohol dependence, those born after 1951 had an earlier onset and longer duration of alcohol-related problems. Significant interactions indicated that these effects were stronger for women than men.

Conclusions Risk for alcohol dependence appears to be rising in younger generations, and particularly for younger women, making them an important target group for prevention and treatment programs.